Thank you for your response.
I have not been involved in any of the discussions between Creative Scotland and artists or organisations and have not intended any of the roadshows, so am not qualified to give an authoritative view about what has gone on. So any suggestions I can give will be informed only by general experience and common sense.
Firstly, I think it would be a good idea to separate the various issues and deal with them one at a time. The current piling in of views about everything is a bit overwhelming and in danger of tipping into some personal mudslinging which would be detrimental to expressing good points. It would be terrible if some of the important issues raised were lost in a tirade of personal comments which painted the theatre community as whinging luvvies.
One way of grouping the issues would be:
- Uncertainty about the future stability of companies affected by the end of flexible funding
- Current communication issues regarding the companies
- Lack of trust many in the sector feel about CS (largely related to 1 and 2 above)
- Future strategy and funding particularly with regard to use of lottery funds v grant in aid
- Process of decision making
- Communication generally
I would take the first three for now.
I would wait and see what CS has to offer as a cogent plan. Andrew Dixon has consistently said he values the companies and , recently, that there will be funding and even more funding for them under different funding streams and strategic commissions. It seems that the companies believed this when he said it at first, that they were told not to worry and that it would be all right. Much of the current anxiety is around the uncertainty of the future. Companies have been told that one stream has ended without knowing what the next one is. So if Andrew and the companies are right, this is simply a matter of timing and a very unfortunate communications process.
From the outside, I have seen the process of the end of flexible funding as more threatening to some of the companies, and have exhorted companies to develop new sources of sustenance. But that was before the introduction of new lottery funds so lets hope I am wrong.
I believe CS should acknowledge their part in this communications debacle. I tend to side with the cock-up over conspiracy theory. I hope I am right and if I were then we should expect some acknowledgement of this from CS.
This would go some way to rebuilding trust.
Secondly, I do believe that there is a need to establish some sort of ongoing open communication between the wider sector (not necessarily the funded organisations) and CS, and possibly wider. There are several different ways of doing this, including through the board of CS playing an active role and through the creation of a forum. I don’t have any specific proposals but I am sure others will.
The comparison you make of Creative Scotland and National Theatre of Scotland invites not only comments on the similarities between the two but also on the differences which go some way to explaining some of the current communication problems.
Both NTS and CS are new models created from different combinations of the same ingredients: political and cultural ambition, demand and disquiet. Both have had to develop trust and credibility in the arts community. Both had chairs appointed by the Culture Minister.
…NTS is an arts organisation, and a limited company with charitable status, where the board directors are appointed independently and where the board appoints the director without any Government influence. Under the leadership of Vicky Featherstone and the guidance of the board, NTS has consistently worked on relationships to build credibility and trust. NTS success and even survival is dependent on good working relationship with the arts community.
..CS is a non departmental government body (NDPD) whose board are appointed by Scottish Ministers to deliver its purpose as determined in law. Scottish Ministers may give directions, although not on matters of artistic judgement, and CS is directly accountable to Scottish Ministers not to the arts community. CS is not an arts organisation. It is an instrument of government albeit at arms length.
I share your aspiration that CS should become an internationally recognised leading Scottish cultural organisation. Like NTS, it is a new model which we have invented for the 21st century as part of Scotland’s national journey. And like NTS, making the model really work will be dependent on connections, cooperation and collaboration rather than 20th century control and command.